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Smart tech for your scholar

Our tech expert introduces new back-to-school devices and software to lighten your student's load and keep her organized, so she'll hit the ground running this fall!

By Christina Tynan-Wood

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ASUS VivoTab Smart

To hear my teens tell it, I lugged my first computer around in a covered wagon. They have a point: technology is advancing so quickly that computers only a few years old seem as obsolete as transportation in the Wild West. Take the ASUS VivoTab Smart, for example. This Windows 8 tablet is so tidy and small it slips easily into a slim purse. It does everything a full-sized desktop did a couple of years ago, but it's slicker, faster, and offers the instant-on convenience of a smartphone. With a practiced gesture, you can flip and fold the cover to create a stand, connect the wireless keyboard (optional, +$100), and transform it instantly into a micro-desktop. That’s pretty wild — and an amazing tool for students. Yours will quickly forget that learning once involved pencils, desks, and a dedicated room. She’ll store her files in the cloud, use the touch screen and two cameras to take video notes, video chat with teachers, and research projects — and her own questions — using any available surface and Internet connection. When her work is done, it all folds up with a snap — the cover attaches magnetically to the tablet and the keyboard clings magnetically to the cover — and she’s good to go. I hate to admit it, but in comparison, my big laptop bag does look a bit like a covered wagon.

Asus VivoTab Smart, $449.99 without keyboard at Best Buy

Christina Tynan-Wood has written for Better Homes and Gardens, Popular Science, PC World, PC Magazine, InfoWorld, and many others. She currently writes the "Family Tech" column in Family Circle and blogs at